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GAR 100 - 10th Edition

M & M Bomchil

06 March 2017

Negotiated a US$200 million settlement with Argentina

People in Who’s Who Legal 1
Pending cases as counsel 6
Value of pending counsel work US$780 million
Treaty cases 0
Current arbitrator appointments 8 (of which 4 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 2

M & M Bomchil has existed since 1923, but has only acquired a name for international arbitration over the past two decades under the leadership of Guido Santiago Tawil.

Tawil regularly sits as an ICSID arbitrator, most commonly appointed by claimants. His reputation in the field is reflected by the leadership roles he has held in various arbitral bodies: he is a former president of the Latin American Arbitration Association (ALARB) and a former co-chair of the IBA arbitration committee. He is a member of ICCA’s governing council, the LCIA Court, the Institute for Transnational Arbitration’s executive committee and academic council, the ICC’s Latin American arbitration group and the Foundation for International Arbitration Advocacy’s board of trustees.

In addition, Tawil is a professor at Buenos Aires University, as are Rafael Manóvil and María Inés Corrá – the other pillars of M & M Bomchil’s arbitration practice. Manóvil, who joined the firm in 2003, often sits as an arbitrator and is a member of Argentina’s National Law Academy in recognition of his academic writing. GAR’s sister magazine, Latin Lawyer, included Corrá in a list of the 50 most inspiring women in the practice of law in Latin America.

Máximo Bomchil – managing partner of the firm for more than 30 years – regularly serves as arbitrator in complex commercial disputes. He is a member of the ICC court representing Argentina.

Who uses it?

Clients include Endesa, CMS, Azurix, Telefónica, Siemens, Camuzzi, Enron, Argentine supermarket operator Disco, Cargill and Wintershall in major investment and commercial disputes in Latin America. It has also worked with several clients from the Chilean gas industry on arbitration and litigation spawned by the country’s 2004 gas crisis.

Track record

M & M Bomchil won a substantial victory (as co-counsel with King & Spalding) for Texan water service provider Azurix. In 2006, it helped the company win a US$225 million ICSID award against Argentina and later successfully defended the award in annulment proceedings.

Teaming up with Freshfields, it also helped CMS Gas win a US$133 million ICSID award against Argentina in 2005. The state eventually agreed to settle the Azurix and CMS Gas awards (as well as three other awards) with a payment of bonds.

In commercial arbitration, the firm has defended Spanish energy company Endesa in a US$600 million ICC dispute; and helped to set aside an award against Endesa in the Argentine courts.

It also defended a large Argentine retail company against an UNCITRAL claim filed by the Chilean arm of Walmart. The claim was dismissed in its entirety.

Elsewhere the firm helped an Argentine company defeat a US$70 million claim by a Chilean retailer; and successfully represented a Chilean distributor in a US$40 million ICDR case.

Recent events

In late 2016, the firm helped two creditors obtain a payout of US$200 million in bonds from the Argentine government to satisfy two investment treaty awards against the state worth a combined US$317 million. The clients were Delaware and UK registered entities that acquired the rights to the awards from the original claimants, the UK’s BG Group and the US’s El Paso Corporation. The ultimate beneficiaries of the payout haven’t been identified.

Partner Federico Campolieti is leading the work for the engineering subcontractor of a major power plant in Argentina in an ICC case against the project’s main contractor.

Tawil had another busy year as arbitrator at ICSID. He was part of the panel that tossed out a mining company’s controversial US$250 million claim against El Salvador, which had aroused the ire of environmental NGOs. He was also appointed to hear claims against Spain and Italy relating to reforms to those countries’ renewable energy tariff regimes; and continues to sit on other cases against Ukraine and Venezuela.

Away from ICSID, he was the dissenting tribunal chair on a panel that awarded around US$35 million to an Ecuadorean port authority in a dispute with a Hong Kong conglomerate in late 2015.

Client comment

Endesa’s Latin America legal subdirector, José María Fesser, has used M & M Bomchil for power disputes with an Argentine element for more than a decade, including on the recent ICC matter. He gives “special mention” to Guido Tawil and Francisco Gutiérrez. “They are a sure guarantee that the legal work will be done very well and they pay close attention to their clients.”